Love and Lore
Inspiration for this essay came from a quote from Sabrina Orah Mark: “The thing about not existing is that sometimes it’s a lot like being a mother.”
The children know the stories of Santa. And the tooth fairy, too. But other mythological beings dwell in our lives. Ignored and overlooked. Unseen.
There’s a laundry troll who can defeat a mountain of laundry in a single day. She folds the mountain into neat little piles and stacks the piles into drawers while children sleep. The laundry troll battles the monster that lives in the laundry room. The one that eats socks who don’t hold on tight enough to their mates.
The children open their drawers and the clothes magically reappear. It’s not an exciting kind of magic, but it’s magic none-the-less: tiny socks tenderly matched.
There’s a Kraken who lives in the sink, her multiple tentacles scrubbing pots and pans. She loads and unloads and loads and unloads the dishwasher in an endless loop. There are skirmishes, of course: the children use a different cup for each drink of water and leave sippy cups of milk in forgotten caves.
The Kraken finds and cleans them all, occasionally losing the battle with the dishes for days on end. But she always makes a comeback. And when she does, the sink sparkles with her victory.
There’s a dinner dragon who feeds tiny humans with monstrous appetites. She’s especially clever: serving ham to all the children but calling it chicken for one, turkey for another. She names poppy seeds “hot dog sprinkles” and herbs “green sprinkles.” Because a human child can’t say “no” to sprinkles. She whispers, “Broccoli is a unicorn’s favorite food.”
There’s a centaur chauffeur who never stops moving; shuffling children from preschool to dentist to swimming to dance. She daydreams of napping and schedule-free days. The centaur is fueled by either coffee or sunshine: it’s hard to tell which. Her favorite kind of sound is NPR or Hamilton or the giggles of the children. Or Silence.
There’s a storytelling sprite, a cleaning genie, a gardening gnome, and many others. They work together in endless shifts so that the children may live, untroubled and cheerful.
But here’s the secret:
They are all me. The mother.
And I have many sisters.
We do the work of hundreds of mythical creatures. Endless, mindless tasks that eat our souls. We are the most powerful of them all: the mothers.
It is valid to feel invisible. But, Mothers, remember: the enchantment that we bring to this world is unmatched. By absorbing the burden of these tasks, we let our children laugh and dance and sing and snooze and dream. We allow them to be children a little longer. And that’s a real sort of magic.
It’s called love.
I’ll be Santa as long as they let me.
Lauren Tetrick is a midwestern mother to three young children. She finds joy in storytelling and empowerment from the women surrounding her. You can find her on Twitter @Laurealism.